LAW 516-001 – Property II

Variance


Most zoning acts allow boards to grant variance from the strict letter of the zoning ordinance. This allows an alternative when individual landowners would otherwise suffer special hardship from the application of the ordinance, but it should be exercised sparingly.

There are two types of variances:

Area Variance

An area variance authorizes deviation from the dimensional limitations of the property, such as restrictions on the size or height of buildings or buildings' placements.

Use Variance

A use variance is one which permits a use other than what is prescribed by the zoning ordinance.

Use variances are not permitted in all jurisdictions.

For a variance to be granted, the applicant must show that relief is necessary to prevent unnecessary hardship to the property owner and that it is not contrary to the public interest.

  • Unnecessary hardship means that the property owner is unable to yield a reasonable return due to the unique character of the property.

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